Oblivion is like a 'Best of' album for sci-fi movies.
Tom Glasson
Published on April 15, 2013


Oblivion is like a 'Best of' album for sci-fi movies. It's got the isolation and planetary caretaking of Moon or WALL-E, the post-alien-invasion devastation of Independence Day, the memory wipes and insurgency of Total Recall, the sentient and menacingly red-eyed robots of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the 'You maniacs!...You BLEW IT UP-edness' of Planet of the Apes. In fact, with so many classic hits, it's like the I Am Sam soundtrack, but where one of the tracks is I Am Legend.

So if it's not terrifically original — if what we're talking about here is essentially a 'covers' film — is it worth seeing? Well, yes, thankfully, because like any good covers album, the tributes are done lovingly, respectfully and with a just enough reinterpretation to keep you interested. Oblivion is directed by Tron: Legacy's Joseph Kosinski, whose touch is immediately obvious both cinematically and aurally (although this time the pulsing soundtrack is provided by M83 rather than Daft Punk).

Set in a fantastically bleak 2077, humanity has abandoned Earth save for two individuals, Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), whose job is to monitor and repair a small fleet of aggressive security drones that hunt down any remaining alien invaders. Like every old cop in an action movie, Jack and Victoria are just two weeks away from retirement when the unexpected crash landing of another human, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), throws a spanner into the works. Jack wants to know who she is, whilst Victoria doesn't want anything to threaten their plans to rejoin the rest of Earth's survivors on an off-planet sanctuary.

Performance wise, Cruise is dependably solid, though its Riseborough who steals every one of their scenes. Her Stepford Wife-esque emotional repression more than makes up for their lacklustre sexual chemistry and becomes especially compelling once Kurylenko is introduced into the mix. Morgan Freeman also makes a cameo in a Morpheus-type role; however, his performance is both fleeting and unremarkable.

The true star of Oblivion is in fact the production design, brought to life in astounding detail via Claudio Miranda's (Life of Pi) engaging cinematography. Jack and Victoria's exquisite airborne apartment sits atop Earth's expansive wastelands, and the scenes in both are equally sumptuous. Coupled with Oblivion's many sci-fi tributes, Kosinski and Miranda's vision offers an enjoyable and fast-paced film that should appeal to a broad audience.


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